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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

Vice provost of research seeks to improve IU's quality of research

Rick Van Kooten, formerly the interim vice provost for research, has permanently assumed his position as vice provost for research. Van Kooten assumed permanent responsibility for the post in the department, the goal of which is providing resources for research on the IU-Bloomington campus, in July.

Van Kooten has many goals to achieve during his time as the permanent vice provost for research, including the Grand Challenges initiative and the Emerging Areas of Research program, both research-funding 

“We’re interested in getting as many Bloomington faculty members involved in (Grand Challenges) as possible and encouraging these collaborations,” Van Kooten said. “What’s unique about Bloomington is the Emerging Areas of Research, which are not as big as a Grand Challenge — not as big in scope, but not as multi-disciplinary — but there’s a lot of research on campus that you can’t force to be multi-disciplinary, and so we don’t want to disenfranchise a big fraction of the faculty.”

Along with the Grand Challenges and the Emerging Areas of Research, Van Kooten has other plans for his time as vice provost for research.

“We get grants from federal and state agencies, so what would be useful would be to get more funds from nontraditional funding sources, so just helping faculty get to those sources,” Van Kooten said.

Van Kooten said he is excited about the new programs recently approved at IU and what they will bring to the University.

“I’m also very excited about engineering, this whole thing that engineering was approved,” Van Kooten said. “That’s going to be a new academic program, but all those faculty will be doing research. That’s a different area of research we haven’t been involved in before, and this will foster more applied research.”

Van Kooten was not one of the original candidates for this position. In October, the search committee, led by informatics professor Beth Plale, selected two candidates, not including Kooten, to present to the president. However, because of other job opportunities, neither of the final two candidates worked out.

From there, Van Kooten was appointed interim vice provost of research. Although he was not on the original list, Plale said she has heard positive things about Van Kooten so far.

“I hear very positive feedback on his carrying out the position, very positive feedback,” Plale said. “He’s holding town halls on Grand Challenges. He’s doing a number of other things. He cares about IU, and that’s a positive thing for something like that.”

Vice President for Research Fred Cate said Van Kooten’s interim position played an important role when he was deciding whether or not he wanted to accept his position in the research department.

“I mean, I’ve known Rick for some time, and I think very highly of him, so that was a huge incentive for me to take the job, knowing what a really exceptional research head the Bloomington campus would have,” Cate said. “He stands for the best of academic values.”

Along with his other goals for the year, Van Kooten said he hoped to improve the quality of research at IU.

“(I hope to achieve) having more research being done on campus, improving the quality of research done on campus, of having a culture of people being very engaged in their research,” 
Van Kooten said.

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